Conferees Tout Education by Radio for Africa

By Bonabesse, Gaedig | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 27, 1997 | Go to article overview

Conferees Tout Education by Radio for Africa


Bonabesse, Gaedig, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


In thousands of Africa's remote villages, there are many school-age children who have no school, no blackboard and no books.

All that could change when it becomes possible for those children to tune in to math, science and other learning channels on a small radio receiver.

In a conference opening in Accra, Ghana, today, a Washington-based telecommunications company will promote a plan to make education available in even the most remote villages in Africa through satellite technology.

WorldSpace Inc., which is developing the first satellite digital radio service, gathered 120 experts and potential investors, including the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to discuss the launch of its first satellite next year.

"To my knowledge, it's the first time high-technology investment of this magnitude has actually been done - specifically tailored around the needs and dictates of the developing world," said WorldSpace Chief Executive Officer Noah Samara in a press briefing last week.

Cosponsored by Ghana's Ministry of Education and the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Commonwealth of Learning, an international organization, the conference focuses on "distance" learning and how to improve African educational systems, said to be in a crisis.

Other developing continents have better results in the educational field, according to Stephen J. Anzalone, a specialist in international-development projects and "distance" learning.

He says progress has slowed there since the 1980s. Less than 50 percent of children of secondary-school age attend school and 40 percent of the continent's population is under 16 years of age.

"Some of the conventional responses are simply not going to work," says Mr. Anzalone, suggesting it is time to look at possibilities offered by new technologies. …

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